Categorized | Game Previews

Night of firsts at Estadio Rio Tinto

Posted on 30 October 2008 by kali

Real Salt Lake hopes to make history once again when it faces Chivas USA on Saturday afternoon.  Not only will the match mark RSL’s first-ever playoff appearance, but the team will also be looking for its first playoff win at Rio Tinto Stadium.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber will be in attendance for the match, which features both of the teams which joined the league in 2005.  The two teams share more than their inaugural season, though — Chivas’ Alecko Eskandarian, Atiba Harris, and Carey Talley all played for Real last season, and Justin Braun is a Salt Lake City native.

On paper, Chivas appears to hold an advantage going into the playoff matchup; the Goats are making their third playoff appearance and have an 8-3-3 advantage over Real in the all-time series.  However, RSL managed their first road win against Chivas earlier this season, giving the coaches and players reason to believe that they can advance beyond the first round.

“We all believe that something special can happen,” said Real midfielder Kyle Beckerman at a media event on Tuesday.

To that end, coach Jason Kreis should have a nearly-full roster from which to choose his starting lineup, as RSL’s injury situation has cleared up considerably over the last several weeks.  The only worry is that of Fabian Espíndola, who remains questionable with a right ankle sprain.

The Goats have struggled with injuries all season long, and Saturday will be no exception.  Maykel Galindo recently had sports hernia surgery and will not be available, joining several Lawson Vaughn and Raphael Wicky on the season-ending injury list.  Midfielder Sasha Victorine is also questionable with a knee sprain.

In addition, Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy received a red card in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo and will be suspended on Saturday.  Backup Zach Thornton, who joined the team in August after Brad Guzan’s transfer, will take Kennedy’s place.  Thornton has played only a handful of matches with the Goats but has a great deal of playoff experience, having won MLS Cup ’98 with the Chicago Fire.

Chivas coach Preki has managed his team well despite missing key players throughout the season, however, meaning that RSL cannot take the Goats lightly.

“They play a good passing game,” Beckerman told Soccer365. “They work hard and are coached well by Preki. You’ve got to put them in difficult situations.”

The match will be broadcast live at 4 pm MT on Fox Soccer Channel.

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